Saturday, 21 August 2010

Cornwall County Council, Tackling Ultra Vires Practices




To: children@cornwall.gov.uk; klavery@cornwall.gov.uk; tdoughty@cornwall.gov.uk

cc: comments@cornwall.gov.uk; nburden@cornwall.gov.uk; Amanda.Hale@cornwall.gov.uk

Elective Home Education - For the attention of John Heath


As a Beacon Council and aiming for democracy in local government, providing excellent service an understanding the law on home education I would have thought that you would have known that this job description seems designed to recruit someone to carry out ultra vires practices.

Perhaps you are not aware that you have no duty or right to monitor families who do not avail themselves of your services, but only to intervene if you find no education is taking place, you do not have to go looking for this.

1.       See Home Education Guidelines for Local authorities

2.       3.6.  ‘... parents are not legally required to give the local authority access to their home.’

3.       Also
4.       2.7  ‘Local authorities have no statutory duties in relation to monitoring the quality of home education on a routine basis.’

5.       In fact Graham Stuart, recently elected chairman of the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee, has just confirmed this in his response to Ofsted’s Report on Home Education.

6.       ‘Under section 436A of the Education Act 1996, inserted by the Education and Inspections Act 2006, local authorities have a duty to identify children who are not receiving a suitable education in their area, so far as it is practical to do so. As the 2007 Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities make clear, however, ‘local authorities have no statutory duties in relation to monitoring the quality of home education on a routine basis’ and are only required to intervene if it appears that parents are not providing a suitable education.’



I hope that this advertisement reflects a misunderstanding, perhaps you should bear in mind these things are not private and can seen by Elective Home Educators, many of whom understand the law and the complexity surrounding it with some mastery.

I do hope you can amend you plans for Elective Home Education in order to stay within the law.

Yours sincerely



Maire Stafford

More details about the people I have sent this too and copied in at Cornwall County Council.

Kevin Lavery
Chief Executive
The chief executive is the head of the paid service and is responsible for a budget of approximately £1 billion and 22,500 members of staff.
Contact details
Cornwall Council, County Hall, Truro, TR1 3AY
Phone: 0300 1234 100
klavery@cornwall.gov.uk



Neil Burden
Cabinet member for Children's Services
The services contained in this portfolio include;
·         Education and Schools
·         Safeguarding Children
·         Family Services
·         Integrated Youth Services
·         Individual Needs and Disability Services
·         Carers Board
Neil Burden, the Independent Councillor for Stoke Climsland, joined Cornwall Council in 2009.
Amanda Hale
Deputy Risk and Insurance Manager (Policy)
01872 323231
Amanda.Hale@cornwall.gov.uk


All policy related Issues


20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good for you. By, you're quick off the mark.

Well done.

It never ends, does it?

Danae
http://www.threedegreesoffreedom.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

you may not get an answer from the council or if you do get one it will be of no use.Also remember that the ombudman would not think that this was serious enough for him to look into it!

The truth is that officers of any LA are never brought to account for writing the wrong facts about home education indeed most county councilors have NO idea what home education is or that it goes on in their ward! i think i have told you before that the first thing a councilor does over home education is to ask the LA for advice! and the complaint department of any LA always asks their LA what it should write back to you over home education! your writing to people who have blinkers on!

Maire said...

But what if they got lots and lots of similar emails?

Maire said...

Thank you Diane, I am harnessing a certain form of emotion and using it positively : )

Anonymous said...

Perhaps someone could suggest an appropriate wording to Cornwall? This could then become a constructive dialogue....?

They might need some help after all.

Maire said...

Hm,they might, I am waiting for a reply as it is a great leap from where they are now to anything legitimate.

Objectives like this are extremely worrying!

"Key objectives for the next 12 months

All referrals are recorded on EMS and time lines for action are adhered to.
Safeguarding forms obtained from relevant school and where there is a concern noted
a referral is made to social care for an initial assessment.
School records and Child Protection records are obtained and filed with the EHE file.
All EHE files are made up according to policy and practice.
All co-ordinators receive Child Protection Training and CAF and TAC training."

As Elaine points out they are suggesting getting hold of records that once the family have finished with their serviced would seem to belong to the family particularly the child not the authority.

However it would be good if it could become a constructive dialogue.

I mostly hope that home edders from Cornwall will pick it up.

Maire said...

And the requirements for the job couldn't express their total inability grasp what home ed is more graphically! it would make a good Two Ronnies sketch!

Functional competencies

Experience in mainstream/special school.

Proven record of excellent class teaching and behaviour
management

Proven ability to teach a range of subjects at different key
stages and to keep up to date with current initiatives in
education

Proven ability to use ICT both personally and in the
classroom. An enthusiasm for the development of ICT

Experience of working with young people in an education
setting.

Good report writing skills

To safeguard and promote the welfare of children under
the Education Act 2002

Experience of multi agency working and undertake home
visits and ability to work on own initiative

Qualifications, training or other requirements

Qualified Teacher
Regular access to a car and current driving licence

Working knowledge of the law relating to home education
under the Education Act 1996

Working knowledge of National Literacy and numeric
strategy

Child Protection Training and CAF and TAC training

Anonymous said...

Yes the "teaching" skills are somewhat incongruous with the role. I'd prefer to see experience of non National Curriculum based eduction and experience of non-school based settings. Or how about knowledge of Elective Home Education and it's practice?

Anonymous said...

Maire says-But what if they got lots and lots of similar emails?

it makes no difference to them! most emails are often classed as repeated complaint or the new word that is used by LA/Councils is vexation!
LA staff are not held to account over their actions to do with home education. Also if you could see what their email to each other about home education it would open you eyes!
County councilors have no idea about home education and just refer back to LA staff about what to do over home education!

Alison Sauer said...

I thought this comment "If the inspectors do not recognise variations from the school model, they are in need of education themselves. If they cannot embrace the diversity of education that the law allows, perhaps they are in the wrong job." from a letter from my friend Rebecca http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=2376291 was quite interesting (it's 3 years old). It's in response to this rather horrid article http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=2366371

Alison Sauer said...

Sorry itchy mouse finger. I'll try again

I thought this comment was pertinent "If the inspectors do not recognise variations from the school model, they are in need of education themselves. If they cannot embrace the diversity of education that the law allows, perhaps they are in the wrong job."

It's from a letter from my friend Rebecca http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=2376291 was quite interesting (it's 3 years old) and is in response to this rather horrid article http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=2366371

Tech said...

I hope they have the decency to respond to you Maire. Got to love your determination not to let this kind of crap go without comment :)

Anonymous said...

have you ever heard of an LA staff member being held to account over anything? in an interview with the daily mail this year a middle ranking council worker said it was very very rare for any staff members to be held to account for almost anything!he give a rare insight in how staff worked not caring about the public! phones calls left unaswered family's being filed as trouble makers! complaints never really answered lack of any speed over problems many staff earning far to much money top level mangers not caring! just waiting for their large pensions! many of these staff know it would cost far to much to get rid of them so their can do as little work as their like!

mum6kids said...

I hope Cornish HEers do take up the baton on this.
And as my daughter said to me the other day "KBO"
I should never had let her learn about Churchill...

Maire said...

Even if you are right Anonymous and I can tell you have had a very frustrating time of it with them I think I will KBO.

Had to look this up mum6kids, thank you, love it!

Tech so do I but if they don't I can blog about that : )

Anonymous said...

I am right Maire! when has an LA Staff been held to account over his/her actions? you should read that daily mail interview with middle ranking council officer!

LA staff know that the public can not do anything to them i have NEVER heard of an LA staff member being sacked for his treatment of a child or the parent.
in the private sector you are held to account to the customer but not in the public section governments come a nd go but LA staff are safe in their jobs for all time!

Squiggle said...

Anonymous said;

Also remember that the ombudman would not think that this was serious enough for him to look into it!

Wouldn't it be considered maladministration and have to deal with it?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maladministration

.... and what about it being an illegal employment contract, so something their legal department would have to investigate?

Best wishes
Jane

Anonymous said...

squiggle says -Wouldn't it be considered maladministration and have to deal with it?


No the ombudman would not consider it maladminstration and besides it has to be a seroius injustice before the Ombudman would take action and here lies the problem you may think it is serous but i can assure you the ombudman would not! the Ombudman can say he agrees this is wrong but it is not serious enough for me to think it is a serious injustice! so no action can be taken im very sorry he writes back to you! i copy this to the council for you!

if you write a number of letters of complaint to a council and get NO reply the Ombudmans will says this is wrong but it is not a serious injustice so i wont take any action with the council! and dont forget that 2 of the most senior Ombudmans they are 3 for all of UK worked as senior council staff before becoming Ombudmans!

HolisticHumanist said...

OK... As you know Marie this IS my LA & I do have an ongoing battle with them regarding the way they've approached me in the past... After many letters hassling me to provide info at the beginning & several doorstepping attempts I was told that my Phil Ed would be accepted... but that they would be in touch in 12 monts... 18 months later & I htough maybe they'd thought better of it but lo & behold as soon as my guard was down, the dreaded form came thru the post aain asking for the same bloody info they'd already had & when they received no reply they tried the same old 'we have made you an appointment' chestnut. So I waited until they were no doubt on their way to the 'appointment' and then sent them an email saying they should refer back to my original letter... I'm still waiting for the fall-out from that one...
Whilst tackling ultra vires practice by the LA is definitely the main issue... I think an aside has to be the willingness of other HE familes to allow them to continue doing so... Whenever I speak to local HEers they seem both ignorant of their own right to refuse LA inspection and unwilling to enforce this right preferring to just go along with what the LA officer says... now I am all fo r choice as you know... but I am also frustrated that the LA is able to enforce their own will ovcer the rote of Law due to apathy from the group they're targetting... I have a feeling that the very changes we worked so hard to resist (al la Badman & the Bill) will be brough in via the back door on the basis of 'Most HE familes have chosen to comply'... I of course will not be the head of one of those familes but I find the unwillingness of others to battle this out very frustrating.

Maire said...

Hi Holistic, I did not realise they had given you such a bad time, apart from the astonishing arrogance of even asking, from an LA that has failed three of my children in ways that are only just revealing themselves and constitute a very real threat to mental health, I have been able to keep them in their place.

However he years and years of stress created for everyone in my family by the inadequacy of the school system and the lies they knowingly tell in order to avoid giving you a legitimate reason to exercise your rights and meet your responsibility to your child will never be forgotten.

I am willing to help anyone, via skype or google docs to challenge their LA in an effective way.

I know how difficult it is as we have just had our eyes opened to how we are still meekly avoiding upsetting authority in ways we did not realise to our own disadvantage.

I should imagine their is a bucket load of Marxian type false conciousness in the home ed community leading to the feeling that submissiveness is actually reasonable compromised.

It can take some time to realise the extent to which we have been duped.

I would say carry on regardless : )

The job is not there but home ed is under this heading, totally obscure to parents who do not want LA support http://www.cornwall.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=2232

However on first glance both the page and the document seem to respect the law so you may be able to use their own literature against them.

Good luck and just shout if you want any virtual support.

I wonder if job descriptions of actual current staff are available?

Would be by FOI and might uncover the wolf in sheep's clothing.

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